The  Theory of Constraints

The theory of constraints is a principle that can be applied to all parts of our lives, although generally it is referred to in relation to business. I first came across it via Rich Schefren, an internet marketing and business leader.  Today I would like to take a look at how it affects our work as artists.

The theory of constraints is based on the principle that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore it makes sense to focus on that weakest link and bring it up to the standard of the other links.

Theory of constraints - weakest link

Chains at Catherine Hill Bay


So as artists – what might some of our weak links be? Here’s a list for you to consider.

They fall into two main groups – physical and mental.

Physical constraints might include:

  • Painting techniques
  • Lack of time
  • Physical issues – i.e. bad back etc
  • Lack of studio space
  • Need for a baby sitter
  • No gallery to sell your work
  • Lack of collectors

Mental constraints might include:

  • Creative block
  • Can’t decide on a direction for your body of work
  • Lack of marketing skills
  • Fear of putting your work out in the public
  • Fear of rejection
  • Lack of self confidence
  • Self doubt
  • Inability to accept criticism
  • No support network – this can also be a physical constraint

This list is by no means exhaustive and some constraints will be unique to you personally. The Physical constrains can be the easiest to identify and the hardest to overcome.  Where as the Mental constraints are much harder to identify and can be easier to overcome, as generally they require a shift in thought patterns and habits, which are down to us and no one else. Mental constraints don’t require physical space or money to change.

So how can we set about identifying our constraints then?

To answer this question look out for next week’s Monday post.

Look For Thursday’s Post: ‘Secrets’ series continues with more works in the pipeline!

Next Monday’s Post: Moving – Is It Controlled, Or Just Chaos?

Posted by : Kadira Jennings

Photo Credit: Della



I was walking down the beach this morning when I came across a little fellow who looked very similar to this.  He got me thinking about what life would be like if I  could only walk sideways everywhere I went.  How would that change the way I operate in the world and what would the advantages and disadvantages be….

Crab walking in The Sand

Well talk about synchronicity….. as I was driving home listening to one of Rich Schefren’s Q & A sessions what should he be discussing but the concept of our unique and individual work flow patterns. One point that particularly resonated with me and made me think of my crab, was this –

We all have a work flow that we use, either consciously, or unconsciously. The question is does it serve us?

Are we limiting ourselves to walking sideways?

As creative people, we would be wise to look at this not only in terms of how that is relevant to the business practices we use but also in terms of our creative process itself. Rich had a good point, in that so often we are looking for a tailor made solution to fit our specific scenario.  We live in an off the shelf society  and have come to expect that there is a ready made solution if we can just find it.

However as we are unique, and what we do and how we work is also unique, only some of what works for someone else, may work for me.  It is my job to figure out what does and doesn’t work of other people’s processes and take the best for myself.

We would profit from spending more time thinking before we begin doing, in order to begin doing more efficiently once we get going.  Part of the problem here is being time poor, so we think time spent planning is an area we can save time but ultimately this is flawed thinking and practice as the opposite is true.

So my question for today is – How does your work-flow strategy serve you and/or hinder you  and what changes can you make so your creative experience is a more enjoyable one? I would love to hear your thoughts -the comments box is at the top of the post if you feel moved to contribute.

Pix Credit: earl53

I was listening to a talk on time management, By Rich Schefren, this morning and was struck by something he said. He was speaking about procrastination and discussing the way some people find it hard to stick to a time table. He suggested that you write a list of fun things that you would love to do and then schedule them into your week. The idea behind this is that there is a two fold benefit:

  • One is that you get to have more fun in your life and of course when you are having fun, you often find that your creativity  kicks in. This is because you are not focusing on the problem and thus allowing the subconscious mind to find solutions for you.
  • The other benefit is that you work more efficiently as you now have less time to get your activities done in.  Also once you begin using this strategy on a regular basis , you become eager to get through your work load so you can get to the fun.  That’s not to say that you don’t enjoy  your work, but this adds another dimension to your life.

Sometimes we can snatch an hour here or there. I love to take photos and the other week after work instead of going home, I felt called to the beach 5 minutes down the road, so I went – and had great fun.  Here are the results-

Umina Beach

Before The Storm

Swan Song

Swan Song

Ebb Tide - sea foam on the beach

Ebb Tide

To assist you in thinking about these ideas a little more, here are some questions you might ask yourself-

  • If you are currently engaged in creative work are you really enjoying it?  If not what can you do about this?
  • Is there a particular part of your work that you find especially enjoyable and would it be possible to do more of this and less of something else?
  • Do you have fun at work and what are your feelings around that?  Is fun even allowed in your workplace?  Some businesses frown upon it – little realizing that this is one of the gateways to tapping into people’s creativity.
  • Have you any hobbies or leisure activities that you love to do? Are you doing them?
  • When was the last time you took a day off and spent all of it having fun? Did you feel just a little bit guilty about that?
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